Beartooth / Chief Joseph Highways

Old Aug 8th, 2004, 11:59 AM
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Beartooth / Chief Joseph Highways

I will be arriving in Billings, MT on 9/4 around 11:30 am and picking up a rental car. I plan to spend the night in Cody before heading to into Yellowstsone by way of the east entrance. I would like to take the Beartooth Hwy as far as the Chief Joseph Hwy, then take the Chief Joseph Hwy to Cody. My question is, will I be able to make it to Cody while its still daylight??? I don't plan to really spend alot of time in one place on the way there, just a few stops to take some pictures and enjoy the view for a few moments. Also, is this a bad idea to do this right off the bat to start the trip. I will be arriving from the east coast and was a little concerned about the elevation changes. My other alternative is to see Little Bighorn Battlefied after getting off the plan, and just head to Cody by way of the more direct route. I would then drive the Beartooth on the way back to Billings through the NE entrance, but will then not drive the the Chief Joseph since I would then stay over in Red Lodge and then move on to Little Bighorn before returning home. I will be returning to Billings to fly home on 9/14. What I did not mention is that all the time in between I will be seeing Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Thanks.

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Old Aug 8th, 2004, 04:52 PM
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You raise a good question, very good.
I cannot give you a direct answer because I am not a medical professional at all.

You will experience a rapid ascent to about 11,000 feet from about 3,600 at Billings.

If you have doubts, ask your doctor.

I have gone over the Beartooth only after being in Yellowstone for several days. Elevations around the geysers are about 7,000 - 7,500 feet and near 8,300 close to the Continental Divide.

That way the elevation change is not as abrupt.

I think you could exit the east gate, and drive the Chief Joseph Highway to the Beartooth, and cross it on your way back to Billings. I think the view of the Absoarakas coming from Cody is better.
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Old Aug 8th, 2004, 05:22 PM
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maj
 
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Bob or anyone actually

I've read most of the threads on this subject, but not sure I'm getting it right.

Assuming all the roads are open, does this sound about right. We fly into Billings, go down the Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone/Tetons. When leaving, we exit the east entrance to Chief Joseph Hwy, connect to the Beartooth Hwy and on to Billings to fly out. Will we see both highways, especially everything on the Beartooth Hwy (going in both directions)? We've been to Cody and Yellowstone/Tetons before and I'm not sure when we are planning this trip, but the northeast entrance is the only one we haven't seen. Obviously we're not planning to do this all in the same day--just trying to get a feel for how these roads go together. Thanks.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 03:48 AM
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srq5000, you may want to ask your question at the Yellowstone Chat page, lots of experts on Yellowstone and routes there.

http://www.yellowstone-natl-park.com/wwwboard/chat2.htm
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 06:12 AM
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Maj, sounds like a good plan to me.

srq5000, I think Bob Brown's idea is good for you because of the direction you will be travelling on the CJ.

I don't ever feel the elevation untiI I get out and start doing something active. I live at 500' elevation so it takes me a while to get adjusted but driving doesn't seem to bother me.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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I think having a map in hand would help a lot with the understanding of these various discussions.

The roads inside Yellowstone are like a figure 8. North would be at the top of the 8. The Lake is about where the period is and Canyon village is on the right of the middle of the 8. Old Faithful would on the lower left loop.

If the altitude is not a factor, taking the Beartooth via Red Lodge is the most direct route from Billings to Yellowstone.

From the summits of the Beartooth, you can descend and enter the northeast gate of Yellowstone. It is a very pretty drive with some interesting views and green forests.

After entering the park this route takes you along the Lamar River south to the vicinity of Roosevelt Ranch. Tower Falls is near there as well.

The road over Dunraven Pass, (the upper right section of the 8) which leads from Tower Falls to Canyon Village is closed for the season the last I heard.

The road needed repairs badly and because of its location, there was no plausible detour and work space is restricted. So the only safe solution was to close the road during construction.

From the Roosevelt Ranch/Tower Falls area, then, your only choice is to drive west to Mammoth and then south to the Norris Junction.

At Norris, you can go east to Canyon or continue south to Madison Junction.
From Madison Junction, you can go west to West Yellowstone or continue south to Old Faithful, the mudpots, Grand Geyser, Biscuit Basin, etc.

If you wish, you can drive over the Bearthooth and turn toward Cody (east) and follow the Chief Joseph to Cody and come in the east gate. I understand that the east gate is open again after a mudslide buried a few cars on the road.

The east gate route brings you in via the Lake, where you can go north to Canyon Village, or south around the Lake to Grant Village. From near Grant, you can turn south to the Tetons or west to Old faithful.

To give you a time estimate, last summer, I drove from West Yellowstone to Cody via the east gate. Then I drove over the Chief Joseph Highway all the way back into Yellowstone via the northeast gate. Then we turned around and drove over the Beartooth with a stop at the fire tower/visitor center.
We arrived in Red Lodge in time for the afternoon rain, and dinner.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 08:31 AM
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SRG,

I am happy you posted this question as I never thought of the elevation adjustment. We have decided to do the Chief Joseph and the Beartooth via the East Entrance on the way back to Billings rather than from Billings to Yellowstone as originally planned. Since we are leaving this Thursday, your posting was very timely.

We will be missing the section of the Beartooth between the Chief Joseph to Cooke City. I hope that is not a mistake.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 09:53 AM
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Bob--I have read your other postings and I think where I was getting confused was that I didn't understand why you went back into Yellowstone after the Chief Joseph Hwy and then backtracked to Red Lodge. I very well may have read it wrong, because I thought you ended up back in West Yellowstone.(Your description of the roads is excellent--anyone going there for the first time should print them out.) I actually do have a map (and there are good maps on the Yellowstone national park web site which have arrows pointing to the roads that are closed if anyone is interested) and it looks like you have to go all the way to Cody to get on the Chief Joseph Hwy (120 to 296-is that right?), so Cody may be a better option to fly into. I was trying to avoid Cody since we have been there. Billings looks like it is really out of the way, but right now it is a really cheap, direct flight for us. We won't be going until next summer or fall, so the road closures (and flights) will probably be different then. At least I have a better idea where we want to go, timewise, etc. A day trip sounds like a good idea.

The first time we went, the road was closed from Old Faithful to Madison and we were staying in West Yellowstone. We had to drive by the Canyon and Lake Yellowstone to get to Old Faithful. We flew in and out of Jackson so we traversed that road at least 4 times.(part of it 6 times because we spent a day in the Canyon/Tower Falls area) We missed some of the sights between Old Faithful and Madison Junction because of the road closure, so that made us go back the next year to see that part (we combined it with Glacier and Mt. Rushmore--great trip). That was our first trip (pre Fodors travel talk and internet National Park sites) and we could have saved some driving time with a little more knowledge of the area and planning.

Thanks for your help.
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Old Aug 9th, 2004, 04:10 PM
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Yes, I did indeed backtrack. I mentioned it to show the kind of distance we covered and still made it to Red Lodge well before dark.

Now as to why we did it, that is another story. We wanted to drive along the Lamar Valley and see if the bison herd was bathing in the river. Unfortunately, they were not. So you could day it was done on a whim.

We knew we had time, and had not visited that part of the park in a while, so we just kept going down the road and that was where we went.

I admit freely that there was nothing highly planned about it. We tend to do that from time to time. We will plan each night, but usually in such a way that we can do whimsical detours when the spirit moves us. Like going out at 1 AM to watch geysers erupt by the light of a full moon. It was a fun experience. We were not the only moon struck geyser gazers out there. There must have been 40 - 50 people waiting on Grand Geyser to blow.
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